Reports suggest that North Korea recently test-fired air-to-ship missiles over the West Sea on two separate occasions -- once in October and once earlier this month.
A South Korean government source said Wednesday the North Korean military dropped missiles from a Russian-made Ilyushin-28 bomber. The source added that the missiles appear to be modified versions of the Styx surface-to-ship missiles redesigned to be dropped from a plane. The Styx missiles have a range of 40 km and are placed on the coast north of the inter-Korean maritime border.
The test-fired missiles could pose a major threat to South Korea's patrol ships and flotillas operating there, experts say.
The secretive regime's intention behind the test remains unclear, but some believe that it was Pyongyang's way of expressing its discontent over strained inter-Korean relations.
The South Korean military, in response, is beefing up its combat strength to counter against a potential air-to-ship provocation by the North. Military officials say that they are reviewing ways to fortify air defenses from the ground and at sea.